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Sunday, August 9, 2009
Roger Staubach's speech honoring Bob Hayes


The transcript of Roger Staubach's speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

2009 Hall of Fame Induction
Enshrinement Zoom Gallery
Graham: Canton is South Buffalo
Ceremony has Bills flavor

ROGER STAUBACH: On behalf of the Bob Hayes family. In fact, the family's here. The Bob Hayes family is all over here. And Bob, Jr. could you stand up? They're all from Buffalo. Thought you might get a bigger applause, you know. But Bob is from Jacksonville. Of course, lot of families coming up from Jacksonville and all over. It's been fun for me to have the honor that was bestowed on me to just speak just a few words on behalf of Bob, his family, on behalf of the Dallas Cowboys, his teammates and friends. It seems like yesterday, but I was an Ensign in the Navy. And I played in a game that was up in Chicago. It was called the college All Star Game. We had a pretty darn good team. We were playing the Cleveland Browns. And I was it was 1965. And Bob and I were both drafted as futures in 1964. And I guess Gil Brandt had an idea that we could both play some day. And I had a little bit of time left. And Bob was just a football player, but he was noted for his exploits on the track and also his gold medal.

So we were in the college all-star game together. That was the first time I met him. And we had, as I mentioned, a good team. We had Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Jack Snow. And we really had a good team. We had these great receivers and we also had Bob Hayes. He had another speed. When you're out there throwing to him, at first I thought I was overthrowing him, and ended up underthrowing him. So you had to get rid of the ball quicker. Make sure you understood when Bob Hayes was running a route, that you better get rid of the ball in a quick manner.

So he joins the Dallas Cowboys. And he had a chance to follow. It was really Don Meredith then and Bob Hayes that lit up the NFL from 1965 to 1969. I got to see part of it on TV. To see film that Gil Brandt used to send me when I was in Vietnam, and watch the film when I was in, with a lot of military guys. So following Bob's career for those four years was phenomenal. He and Don Meredith really hit it up. And then Don retired in '69, I joined the Dallas Cowboys, and Craig Morton and I had a chance for six years to have some big games with Bob Hayes.

Remember in '71 we were at Yankee Stadium, and Bob caught a pass to midfield that looked like he had a jet stream behind him. Ran into the end zone, and against the Rams on Thanksgiving Day we were behind 21-14. We tied the game, and Bob caught a long touchdown pass. So he made big plays after big plays. His 71 touchdowns was every time he had a touchdown for every five catches. In 1971 he had over 26 yards on an average per reception in his career. He made quality plays, he made big plays, and he was over 20 yards per reception in the National Football League, which is right there, I think, maybe tied with Jerry Rice.

So Bob made it happen on the football field. But when he joined the team, one thing Coach [Tom] Landry was as good as it gets. He was a great human being. And you know, he was sometimes he could let you know how he felt. Other times he really, you know, trying to figure it out sometimes. But Bob, he loved Bob Hayes. And Bob joined the team in 1965. I want to read the quote. Because Coach Landry was asked and I have to read it because coach had this his language was pretty good. He said they were talking about drafting Bob, and what do you expect of him? And he had just joined the team. But it was after the opening game. He said heck no, we didn't know what we were getting. When we got Hayes, Coach Landry said, after the '65 opener, after Don Meredith hit Bob on about a 3-yard pass, and he went 40 yards for a touchdown. Coach Landry said well, we drafted him. He had 9.3 speed. Having no idea about his football moves. But, gosh, he'll be a great one before he's done.

And Coach Landry was right. You know, Larry Wilson who had the chance to play against Bob really summed it up and said, 'you know, that Bob really had football sense.' Larry said he had speed. He had all different kinds of speed, and all the speeds were fast. But he had a football sense. And playing with him, you just you knew that he could make plays and he understood routes, and he had that speed. It was phenomenal.

He also was loved by his teammates. He was kind of a cut up guy. He liked to actually put nicknames on players and sweet lips was Cornell Green's nickname. And he just had a name for everybody. And the thing about the locker room, Bob Hayes was always had a smile in the locker room. He really cared about his teammates. As a great athlete and the deserving honor he has to be in the Hall of Fame, it is still one of the things you take with you in life, the people you work with that Bob Hayes truly gave a darn about someone other than himself. And he was loved by his teammates.

I also want to mention Willie Brown, said it earlier today, too. I was talking to him and he said, 'you know, we kind of developed the bump and run even more because of Bob Hayes. We had to hit him. We couldn't just let him get off the line of scrimmage.' In today's game you can't hit receivers down the field past 5 yards. Back then you could knock the receiver all over the place until the ball was in the air.

So Bob was lightning fast. So you had to double cover him. If a defensive back played too far off of him, he could run a quick out route. So you either had to zip a linebacker out or you had to roll the cornerback and put the safety back. You had to do something, or you just had to hit him. You tried to get a piece of him when he got past the line of scrimmage.

So he was impactful. And you look at the league, and back then it was a lot of you ran more because the passing game was a little bit more difficult because of the ability to hit receivers. But Bob really had an impact on the kind of coverage they use in the National Football League. And that's what the Hall of Fame is about, is having an impact. And a great player like Bob Hayes truly had an impact on the NFL, and he had had a tremendous impact on the Dallas Cowboys.

Bob worked with me in the '80s, and Bob faced some challenges. And everyone was there to help him through the challenges, because he was there when you needed Bob Hayes. He was almost generous to a fault. But Bob Hayes was really, really a decent, caring human being that had extraordinary skills. And old 'speedo' was one humble son of a gun. I don't know if he ever showed me his gold medals from the Olympics. He just was a big guy. A great athlete. Faced some challenges. Some a little bit more than most of us go through. And his family was always there for him. He was always there for them. So it's a real privilege. It's a real privilege for me to say thank you, Canton. Thank you NFL. Thank you to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for making sure that this great athlete that had an impact on the NFL is in the Hall of Fame.

And I saw him at the ring of honor in Dallas. He was smiling. He's
got a beautiful, wonderful smile. And I know he's smiling now. And I hope he's next to near Coach Landry, because I know if he's there, he's in good shape. I guess the only thing we miss as far as family, friends, is he's not here to show you this big smile.

But we thank you for the opportunity to allow Bob Hayes to be in a great fraternity. One that I'm awfully proud of, and that is the Pro Football Hall of Fame, thank you very much.